Tuesday, July 18, 2006

July 18th, 2006 - Feldkirch, Austria to Interlaken, Switzerland

Listen, I don't want to give the impression that I was poppin' Ambien like jelly beans but I really needed a good night’s sleep and felt great the next morning. Breakfast downstairs and a quick walk around town, and I headed out. Oh yeah, the other funny thing was the loud American I heard in the hotel lobby. He was blabbering to someone about being in "metal pole fabrication." Anyway, as he was leaving the hotel he said " Au revoir," then loudly said to himself "Damn, I keep speaking French."

In addition to being on the way to Interlaken, there was no way I was going to be this close to Liechtenstein and not go into the country. The border crossing was just up the road from Feldkirch, and I stopped before I got there to read up on it in the book. You know, diplomatic customs, common greetings, taboos to avoid. I got all my papers out and prepared for the third degree, after all, I was about to enter Liechtenstein. For some reason, the process seemed as daunting as the pronunciation. When I got up to the guard, he just waved me through.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

Pretty much the whole morning I was paralleling the Autobahn and trying to avoid the ubiquitous entrance sign while maintaining the direction I wanted to head. I was getting better about anticipating the roundabouts and having an idea of which way I'm going to go before I get into them. Using this method, I basically linked up all the small towns alternating between 80 kmph and 50 in the towns. Was definitely the slow way to go but felt like I saw much more than I would have otherwise. Definitely a few u-turns but navigation was generally very easy.

Picking my route over to Interlaken, I had seen a road that cut across a corner and angled in the direction I wanted. I found the turn for it and discovered only then that the road was to a well-known pass called Klassen. Heading up to the pass was some of the best road so far and the top itself was spectacular. Classic alpine crags and green pastures with streams and waterfalls everywhere.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

After a jog south using my patented Autobahn avoidance technique I came to Wassen, the turn for the Susten Pass. Before I hit the pass, I figured I should fill up the tank and pulled into a gas station. As I started to pull my helmet off, a beautiful young woman wearing a tight green tank top and skirt appeared from inside the store and started saying something in German. I indicated that I didn't speak German and she quickly switched to English, asking if I needed help. Feeling the burly motorcycle man, I said no, but she still showed me over to the credit card terminal. She asked if I had a PIN and, assuming it was a debit card only pump, I slid the card and entered my PIN. Again, she gestured to the pump asking if I needed help. Again, I said no and proceeded to turn the bike around to make pumping easier. Before I knew it, she grabbed the nozzle and was pumping the gas for me.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

So I stood there and talked to this gorgeous woman about how she was living in Germany in this little town with some friends while on Summer vacation (I assumed from University but, jeez, it coulda been high school!) in Poland. I couldn't resist taking a picture of her filling up the bike. It was only as I climbed the road to Susten Pass that I realized that I never got a receipt or any indication of a total and that her "do you have a PIN" could have been an elaborate plan to make me use my bank card then blind me with her Eastern European cuteness while she pulled some scam to access my account. I figured I should check my balance at some point...

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

The road up and down Susten Pass was even more dramatic than the Klassen, and I felt like I had to stop for a picture at every other turn. I took a break at the top for a salami and pickle sandwich on a french roll. Resisting photo opportunities was just as hard on the way down the pass. At the bottom of the road was Innertkitchen from which I paralleled the Autobahn to the first of the two lakes on either side of (oh, now I get it!) Interlaken. Very familiar with tourists, signs in town directed me to an information kiosk where, as the rain started to fall, I called a few hotels and hastily decided on one of the closest to end my 280 km day.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

280km for the day.

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